OAKLAND, Calif. - After just six days of fundraising, the Oakland Unified School District announced it has reached its $12.5-million goal toward providing every student with access to a computer and internet service for the upcoming school year.
Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted earlier this week that he would donate $10 million. A day later, Zynga founder Mark Pincus said he would give the rest of what the district needed -- $700,000 - to complete the request, the district announced in a news release Tuesday.
Roughly 25,000 of OUSD's students, including those at charter schools, reported that they did not have adequate computers or Wi-Fi at home. The digital divide has long existed, but the tech gap has been exacerbated as students are forced to learn at home, away from campus, during the coronavirus shelter-in-place, which began in mid-March.
Pincus told OUSD officials that he was inspired by Dorsey’s generosity.
A group of city and school officials, along with the nonprofit Tech Exchange, had already raised $1.8 million. Some of those big donations of more than $100,000 had already come in from Gilead Sciences, the Oakland Public Education Fund, Koshland Family Foundation, Oakland COVID-19 Relief Fund, Salesforce, The Barrios Trust, The Golden State Warriors in partnership with Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and Amazon. (A full list of major donors can be found here.)
Oakland Unified's superintendent expressed deep gratitude.
“Once again, I am amazed and humbled by the generosity of these leaders of technology,” Supt. Kyla Johnson-Trammell said in a statement. “As Mark Pincus shows, giving is contagious. Like Jack Dorsey, he saw the need for all Oakland’s young people - now more significant than ever - to have technology at school and at home, to open them up to the world of information through the internet, and to become even more adept at using that technology. Here in the 21st century, countless careers are inextricably tied to computers and the web, so we need to have all of our students prepared to succeed in our world.”
An Oakland Unified student looks at a computer. The district reached its $12.5 million goal to buy every student a computer.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, who has two children in the district," said she was grateful to see Silicon Valley's tech titans "join the mission to close the digital divide in Oakland."
District officials said that while the initial goal of raising $12.5 million has been reached, the campaign to close the digital divide for good is far from over.
To sustain this effort from year to year, the district highlighted the ongoing annual cost of $4 million and the need to develop sustainable citywide internet connectivity.
IF YOU'RE INTERESTED: If you would like to learn more or get involved, visit this website. To consider a donation or connect us to anyone who wants to join our movement to close the digital divide, contact Dsilver@oaklandca.gov, Curtiss.Sarikey@ousd.org, or Jonathan@oaklandedfund.org.